Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A few moments of bliss

Marie-Ange laughs out loud, flashes one of her beautiful smiles, and I can't help but smile back. "Louis, you ask too many questions, just finish your mango!" Marie-Ange is sixteen, just like her sister Ange-Marie and her brother Jean. They're triplets. "Your hair is just no good for dreadlocks, Louis", she says and starts laughing again. There's a gleam in her eyes that makes me forget the terrible things we were talking about just moments ago. "What are you doing here already" asks Ange-Marie, who is just coming in through the door, "food won't be ready until half past six". She's right: I had come a bit earlier, to learn more about their work. "Just a minute there, Louis", says Ange-Marie, "don't call it work. It's my passion!" This passion Ange-Marie is talking about is her work with the children in the village.

Every Friday, a group of seven teenagers meets with the five psychologists working in the village. They discuss the schedule for the coming week and sum up the preceding one. Every day, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and again from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, the seven girls organise activities for the 5- to 13-year-olds in the SOS Children's Village in Santo. Marie-Ange and Ange-Marie are two of them. The mornings are spent drawing, writing or singing, and the afternoons are used to create and rehearse dance routines. Their programmes are developed together with the psychologists, each of them takes care of 30 children. Asked why they do it, they tell the story of one of their brothers, who lived outside the village and died of his injuries the day after the earthquake. "Even if none of the houses here in the SOS village collapsed, we can still relate to what many of these children have been through. Spending time with my friends and keeping ourselves busy helps us take our mind off things, and that's exactly what we want to do for these children".

Marie-Ange starts to dance to the song her sister has started singing, and even though my hips are having trouble finding the right rhythm, for just a moment, I feel relieved of all burdens. We keep on dancing for a few minutes, and Marie-Ange tells me that this is exactly what they do with the children - help them forget for a few happy hours, just let them have fun and allow them to stop thinking about anything. What these two girls are doing here is a great help, and they do it gladly for others in spite of what they have been put through themselves. I obviously have a lot to learn from these two.